Praying for Miracles in Diamond

LAST November Clare Lindop was quietly excited that she’d found a smart two-year-old who could have a promising career. Lindop, one of South Australia’s premier jockeys, has always been a hard marker and has trained herself not to become overwhelmed by a one-off gallop.
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But this time the youngster gave her the right feel and the two-year-old was entered for a barrier trial at Morphettville to get a guide on the depth of her talent.

But Lindop admits to being astounded after another filly raced past her in the middle stages to win the trial comfortably.

When they had pulled up, Lindop couldn’t help herself and leant over to Lauren Stojakovic, quizzing the mature-age apprentice about the nuggety but brilliant two-year-old.

”With a broad smile, Lauren said to me, ‘This is a filly called Miracles Of Life and, yes, she is very good,’ and I said, ‘You’re not wrong,’ ” Lindop said.

But Lindop was convinced the Morphettville trial wasn’t the first hint that Miracles Of Life had ability. The two-time premiership winner in Adelaide knew plenty of work had gone into Miracles Of Life before that day.

At Caulfield on Saturday, Miracles Of Life is the $2.90 favourite to win Victoria’s most important two-year-old race, the $1 million Blue Diamond Stakes (1200 metres).

It is no secret that argument rages on whether a two-kilogram apprentice at the age of 29 is capable of taking on the best jockeys in Australia in a group 1 event.

Lindop, a tough judge at the best of times and who sees Stojakovic in action every Saturday at Morphettville, is convinced connections have made the right decision.

”It’s funny. Whenever a good horse comes from Adelaide … the call is to put a Melbourne jockey on when you’re going to Melbourne, and perhaps in some cases that is correct but not this time,” she said.

”Lauren has a perfect and complete feel for Miracles Of Life. She’s been with her every day and understands every little quirky part of her make-up.

”In the case of major two-year-old races like this, connections have made the right decision. It’s a two-year-old race where horses can be erratic because basically they’re very new to what they are doing and an intimate understanding of a horse’s habits is just vital, whereas tactics aren’t as important.

”It’s a different story if you’re coming over for a race like the Caulfield Cup. That’s when you’re riding a seasoned racehorse and you’ve got to plan tactics and perhaps have a ‘B’ plan if things don’t go right. But in a Blue Diamond, it’s over 1200 metres and your main job as a jockey is to make your horse comfortable and relaxed more than other races when they get older.”

Each week Lindop sits opposite Stojakovic and believes the challenge that awaits her is an exciting one, not a daunting one.

Lindop points out that, like herself, Stojakovic is meticulous in her form study and believes she will know where each rival will be when the race is on.

”She sometimes outdoes me on studying the form. Actually, I’m really excited for her,” Lindop said.

Asked if she had given Stojakovic any advice, Lindop said: ”I think she’s had more than enough advice. You can get too much information. I’ve just said, ‘You know your filly and enjoy the moment.’

”OK, there are some big stables involved in the Blue Diamond and they’ll pull a few sneaky gear changes, which happens every year, but as an outsider she can use her barrier one to glide up and just sit on the pace. OK, she’ll need a little luck on the turn into the straight to get a run, but again we can’t forget they’re two-year-olds who more than likely will roll or fan off the track. That’s why the importance of having them relaxed and happy for you is more important than what the ones around you are doing.”

Lindop, as usual, has a full and exciting book of rides at Morphettville on Saturday. She has notched four group 1 victories and has won nearly every major race on the South Australian calendar, so she knows what she’s talking about.

Lindop is hoping Stojakovic keeps her feet on the ground and enjoys the moment.

”I’ve got great confidence in her. Sure, things can go wrong but things go wrong for the very best jockeys in Australia at times, so full credit to all those involved keeping Lauren on in such a race,” she said.

At 4pm on Saturday, Lindop will be glued to coverage of the race at Morphettville. She will be hoping that not only can another woman bring a major race trophy home to South Australia but that it is also her good friend who has worked hard for this day.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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